Reno Q&A - Preparing for Rental



Q I’m planning to convert our family home to a rental property so we can move closer to the city. Could you please give us a few tips on what and where we should be spending our money so that the house will increase in value and at the same time attract good tenants? Obviously I don’t want to spend too much, say around $6,000.


A A $6,000 budget is not massive, so you need to make careful and strategic changes that have real impact. Do a ruthless appraisal of what is letting your place down. On a tight budget, you’ll be limited to cosmetic improvements only so start with the relatively straightforward things first, as a well-maintained and meticulously clean property will give you a good headstart in the rental market. 

  • Internally, a fresh coat of paint in a neutral but modern colour scheme will instantly brighten and transform all of your internal rooms. 
  • Rip up old, worn carpets or outdated flooring. 
  • If you have real floorboards, polish those – otherwise low-cost laminate floorboards can be laid across a whole house for $2,000 to $3,000, if you shop around. 
  • Pull out dark, drab curtains and replace with slimline venetians in a bright white colour to lighten your internal space.

Your kitchen and bathroom can be very expensive to update properly but why not give these rooms a cosmetic refresh only? 

  • If you have an old kitchen that is structurally in good condition but cosmetically the wrong colours, get in with laminate paint, tile paint and a benchtop resurfacing kit like Rustoleum. For under $1,000, you can have a new  looking kitchen in one weekend with a lot of DIY effort. 
  • In your bathroom, tile paint will be your new best friend.

And let’s not forget the external appearance of your property. As they say, first impressions are lasting ones. 

  • Externally paint your facade.
  • Cut back unruly trees and foliage that have run rampant and are visually cluttering your house. 
  • Add fresh blonde woodchips to garden beds.
  • Show your lawn some love with lawn food. 
  • Spruce up old tired paths and your driveway with a couple of coats of paving paint. 

These suggested changes will make a huge difference to your property and with most of these tasks capable of being done yourself, you might just have some money left over at the end. 



Q I’ve seen a lot houses and even units being painted outside with some kind of blue/grey hue. Personally, I like it, but I worry about it being just a passing fad. What colour would you recommend when painting the property’s exterior? Our house is brick veneer.


A Remember when the Tuscan look was in and every second house was painted burnt orange or mustard yellow? Painters had a roaring trade painting over all those when the look grew tired. Trends can be infuriatingly fickle, so I’d opt for something you think has enduring appeal. You don’t want a completely bland look, but you need to strike a balance between something that gives your house some personality and a possible fad that eventually ends up being a liability. It depends a lot on the scale of your house, too. 


A dark colour might look quite dramatic on a small facade, but be downright oppressive on a McMansion. You have two options – choose a lighter colour for your walls (clay or light coffee colours like Dulux Hogs Bristle work well) complemented by a dark contrast colour for all your trims like your guttering, downpipes, barge boards and front fencing. The second option is to go darker on your external walls (moccha colours like Dulux Crust) with darker contrast tones like Dulux Domino. If you look under “Projects” on my website (, you’ll see several examples that might give you some inspiration.


It’s essential you get your colours right. Most of the big brand paint companies have colour consultants who, for a small fee, will visit your house and specify your paint colours for you to ensure you get this right. And nothing will transform your brick veneer facade better than render. If your budget allows, I highly recommend a product called Rockcote. It’s textured render in a bucket which can be tinted to thousands of colours and thus eliminates the need to paint your walls externally. It will significantly modernise the look of your property and bump up your property value too! See for details.



Q What are you looking for when buying a property to renovate and hold? I’m keen to get into the strategy, but I don’t know where to start. What are your buying criteria–where, when and why? 


A This is a large focus of my intensive, three-day Renovating For Profit workshops, so it would be almost impossible to sum up the strategy in a few  sentences, but here are some general pointers to get you started if you’re not in a financial position to receive my professional training in this regard. Firstly, you need to target the right suburbs – ones where unrenovated homes are in plentiful supply (target suburbs where properties are aged between 20 and 40 years) and ones within your affordability level. Those suburbs need to show signs of promising capital growth–important when you’re looking to hold the property, longer term. And they need to be practical suburbs for rental  tenants to live in with good proximity to amenities like schools, shopping centres and hospitals; public transport hubs and easy freeway access to get into major business districts. Research tools like RP Data can provide suburb profiles and comprehensive stats on demographics, properties sold, etc, that  will assist you in researching these areas. 


Once you’ve narrowed your search to a couple of key suburbs, pound the pavements and visit as many “open for inspections” as you possibly can. After a couple of months, you’ll have a good grasp of property values in your suburb  so you can quickly recognise the good buys when they come along. You’ll need to know the prices of unrenovated versus renovated properties. If you pay too much for an unrenovated property when buying, it will be hard to turn a profit. There is an extensive amount of detail that I teach in my workshops into the actual buying criteria but essentially it includes thorough property due diligence to ensure you’re buying a property that is structurally sound, has no major buyer objections, represents good value, has enough scope of work to significantly uplift the property value and is a property that can be renovated to suit the rental market and thus be in high demand. One thing is for sure –it’s not all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Putting time and effort into  meticulous suburb and property RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH will ensure you buy wisely – which is the foundation of renovating success.


Cherie Barber

Do you have more than $120k in your super fund? You could use your super to buy property - Find out how

Top Suburbs : queens park , keperra , new farm , cardiff south , mortdale

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